Thursday, May 3, 2012
Ballot Access Update: More DC BOEE Fun and Games
Ballot Access is a serious issue for new and minority parties. Any effort to restrict ballot access is a serious blow against democratic principles. Why is the DC Board of Elections and Ethics acting this way?
In a recent post I wrote about the difficulty that several DC Statehood Green Party candidates were having with getting their names approved for PRINTING on the November ballot. [I recommend reading that post before reading this one.] After being the only qualified candidates to sign an Affirmation of Candidacy for the available DCSGP slots we were subsequently told that they could not be considered because an unqualified candidate from a different party had received more write-in votes.
The law we thought was valid states that if the candidate with the most votes is disqualified, then the candidate with the next highest number of votes will be the official printed candidate. Now they are trying to codify a rule saying that if the person with the most votes is disqualified, then NO ONE will be approved. The Affirmed candidates have been fighting this. If this rule holds, then it will mean anyone wishing to disrupt a minor party can do so by pursuading enough of the party members (many of whom probably do not know or understand the rules) to vote for a popular member of a different party, thus eliminating the preferred member of their party from the right to be printed on the General Election ballot. This was done to the Republicans in 2010, now it is being done to the DC Statehood Greens.
The latest development is that BOEE has sent the DC Statehood Green Party a letter saying the Party could "select, in accordance with its rules, an individual who meets the statutory requirements to hold the office sought" for the Nov. ballot. No one knew that on March 23rd BOEE had proposed new rulemaking to change the selection process just 10 days before the Primary. Nor did BOEE tell any of the DCSGP write-in candidates who went to BOEE offices on April 6th to Affirm their Candidacy that a rulemaking change was in the works and already being acted upon. In fact, the letter to DCSGP leadership was sent on April 26, 2012, conveniently 3 days after the allowed 30 day period for comments permitted when proposed rulemaking is printed in the D.C. Register. How can the BOEE disqualify Affirmed candidates with a rule that is still in the rulemaking process? As I stated above, no notification was given to these candidates.
At this point it appears that BOEE is either trying to make corrections in their rules that they failed to do after the Bates case in 1993, or they are deliberately catering to the wishes/needs of the dominant DC party. BOEE further states that "a review of the Board's certification of election results since Bates" demonstrates they have "not relied on these regulations since then." They further state that the "proposed rulemaking" was published March 23rd, "so the public had notice of the rulemaking and made no objections." So one question is, why would BOEE require an Affirmation of Candidacy" without telling us of the pending rule change? In fact why would we have been told that an Affirmation of Candidacy was required if they already "KNEW" that we were disqualified.
BOEE's next meeting is Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 10:30 am, in the Board's hearing room at 441 4th St., NW, Suite 280 North. This is convenient to the Judiciary Sq. Metro stop, and proper ID is required to enter the building. Hopefully, people concerned about democracy and minority party rights will show up there. Would anyone like to help us with a legal battle??